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pulled down. This action rendered the Protector Somerset, to whom the building belonged, extremely unpopular, and was one of the causes that led to his fall. Had Butler lived in our days, his complaint would have been reversed, for he would have seen palaces razed to build streets. Ely Place, in Holborn, stands on the spot which, in Butler's time, was occupied by the episcopal palace and gardens of the bishops of Ely; and in the recollection of the youngest, streets have risen up in Bloomsbury and Piccadilly, on the sites occupied a few years ago by the palaces of the Dukes of Bedford and York.
V. 22. Just like the manhood of nine tailors.] Nine tailors, it is commonly said, make a man. The effiminacy of their employment seems to have entailed upon the race of tailors more ridicule and reproaches than any other class of men are subject to; and perhaps it were desirable in an enlarged view of political economy that, if possible, none but females should be employed on the Jabours of the needle. In Shakespeare's time the craft was liable to the same sarcasms and contempt that it is at present. In the Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio uses his tailor with as much contempt as if he had really been but the ninth part of a man.
“ Thou thread, thou thimble,
A man that's handsome, valiant, wise, &c.] The Spectator says, That the wild Tartars are ambitious of destroying a man of the most extraordinary parts and accomplishments, as thinking that, upon his decease, the same talents, whatsoever post they qualified him for, enter of course into his destroyer. The North American Indians are said to hold a similar opinion; and this gave birth to a splendid burst of eloquence in the House of Peers, on the trial of Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, for participating in counsellor Layer's conspiracy. The witty, but profligate, Duke of Wharton, who warmly espoused the cause of Atter
bury, turned to the bench of bishops and addressing the right reverend prelates, said, “ he could not imagine how the reverend peers in lawn could possibly be so zealous in the prosecution of the learned member of their order, unless they were possessed with the infatuation of the North American Indians, and thought that, by gaining the bishop's preferments, they should become endowed, also with his learning and his talents."
V. 30. And mow'd o'erthwart, or cleft downright.] Butler here alludes to the heroes of romance, who either cleft their adversaries in twain by a side stroke, or divided them into two parts, by splitting them from the skull to the middle. This might, perhaps, have been done by swords such as the ancient heroes of romance fought with, but it is much to be doubted whether modern swords would serve for such achievements. V. 47-8. That is to say, whether tolutation
As they do term't, or succussation.] These are Latin words, which answer to the phrases of the English menage cantering or trotting.
V. 57. Mere engines made by geometry.] Descartes, who died at the court of Christiana, Queen of Sweden, in 1654, taught, that horses, and other brute animals, had no life in them, but were mere engines, moved by certain springs like clock-work, having neither sense nor preception of any thing. Those philosophers who thought with Descartes, might, with no greater absurdity, hold whipping-tops to be animals. V. 69-60. And were invented first from engines,
As Indian Britons were from Penguins.) To understand the humour of this passage, it ought to be mentioned, that a tradition has long prevailed, that America was discovered by Madoc, brother to David ap Owen, Prince of Wales, nearly two centuries before the voyage of Columbus. This is believed in some parts of America to the present day, and various relations have been published to prove the existence of Welsh Indians on that continent, to say nothing of an epic poem, written by an author of our own age, expressly to describe the adventures of Madoc;. but certainly there is nothing to give credibility to the tradition, except that it is not impossible such an expedition might have occurred. The learned Mrs. Carter's explanation of this passage,
which appears among the notes of Dr. Grey's edition of Hudibras, is too valuable to be omitted here. “The author's explanation of the last line,” says she, “which is an illustration of the first, must, I think, be the clue which must lead us to the meaning of these lines. He tells us, that some authors have endeavoured to prove, from the bird called Penguin, and other Indian words, that the Americans are originally derived from Britons; that is, that these are Indian Britons; and, agreeable to this, some authors have endeavoured to prove from engines, that horses are mere engines made by geometry. But have these authors proved their points ? Certainly not. Then it follows that horses, which are mere engines made by goometry, and Indian Britons, are mere creatures of the brain, invented creatures; and if they are only invented creatures, they may well be supposed to be invented from engines and penguins, from whence these authors had endeavoured, in vain, to prove their existence. Upon the whole, I imagine, that, in these and the lines immediately preceding, three sorts of writers are equally bantered by our author: those who hold machines to be animals, those who hold animals to be machines, and those who hold that the Americans are derived from Britons.” Warburton, who justly may rank among the first commentators upon the British poets, observes upon these lines, “ That the thought is extremely fine, and well exposes the folly of a philosopher, for attempting to establish a principle of great importance in his science on as slender a foundation as an etymologist advances an historical conjecture.”
V. 65. The dire Pharsalian plain.] Pharsalia, a city in Thessaly, famous for the battle fought by Julius Cæsar against Pompey, in the neighbouring plain, which put a period to the liberties of the Roman commonwealth, V.71-2. For as our modern wits behold,
Mounted a pick-back on the old.] Sir William Temple, in his Essay on Ancient and Modern Learning, observes, “That, as to knowledge, the moderns must have more than the ancients, because they have the advantage both of theirs and their own; which is commonly illustrated by a dwarf standing upon a giants shoulders, or seeing more or further than he." It may, however, in point of fact be very well doubted, whether the moderns have the advantage over the ancients or no, since we are well assured that many branches of knowledge which were perfectly well known to the ancients are irrecoverably lost to the moderns. If we may judge of the state of knowledge among mankind, from the state of population, which is perhaps a safer criterion than any other to judge by, unquestionably the ancient world was infinitely more populous than the modern. And if we look at the happiest periods of modern history, when the arts and sciences were cultivated with the most success, who for a moment could compare them with that bright portion of Athenian History, which is coinprised between the era of Pericles and Alexander? V. 97-8. Portending blood, like blazing star,
The beacon of approaching war.] From the most ancient 'times all extraordinary appearances in the air have, by the vulgar, been accounted preternatural prodigies, or signs, exhibited by the power of heaven, to put mortals on their guard against approaching calamities. Such was the comet which appeared when the emperor Charles V. sickened, increased as his disorder increased, and at last shooting its fiery body point-blank against the monastery of St. Justus, where he lived, in the very hour the emperor died the comet vanished. Pliny says, “ comets are called dire, because they portend cruel and horrible disasters, as famine, wars, discomfiture, havoc, slaughter, the destruction of cities, the devastation of countries, and the untimely end of the human species." Plinii Nat. Hist. I. xi. C. XXV. V. 99-100. Ralpho rode on with no less speed
. Than Hugo in the forest did.] One of the great difficulties in our older poets is, to understand their allusions to works which, however well known in their own times, have long since fallen into oblivion. The Hugo mentioned in the above passage, is a personage who figures in Sir William Davenant's poem of Gondibert. He was scout-master to Gondibert; and when he and his party of hunters were in danger of an ambuscade from Oswald and his forces, he sent little Hugo to reconnoitre the enemy. “ The Duke this falling storm does now discern,
Bids little Hugo fly, but 'tis to view
Whilst firm he in a square his hunters drew.
And Hugo soon, light as his courser's heels,
Was in their faces troublesome as wind,
No one could catch what all with trouble find.” V. 106. Crowdero marchod, &c.] In the Key to Hudibras, published by Sir Roger L'Estrange, we are informed, that by Crowdero was meant one Jackson, a miliner who lived in the New Exchange in the Strand. He had formerly been in the Parliamentarian service, and lost a leg in it, which had reduced him to decay, so that he was obliged to go about from alehouse to alehouse, earning his bread by playing upon the fiddle. Our poet very judiciously places him at the head of his catalogue, for country diversions are generally attended with a fiddler or bag-piper, who march first in procession. It may be observed in this place, that we have here the exact characters of what we may easily conceive the usual attendants at a bear-baiting to have been, fully drawn, and a list of warriors conformable to the practice of epic poets. V. 113-4. A squeaking engine he apply'd
- Unto his neck, on north-east side.] Dr. Grey, in his note upon this passage, says, “ Why the north-east side? Do fiddlers always, or most generally, stand or sit according to the points of the compass, so as to answer this description ? No, surely, I lately heard of an ingenious explication to this passage, taken from the position of the body when it is buried, which being always the head to the west, and the feet to the east, consequently the left side of the neck, that part where the fiddle is usually placed, must be due north-east.” V. 115-6. Just where the hangman does dispose,
To special friends, the knot of noose.] In execution the noose is always placed under the left ear: the reason of this is, that the pressure of the halter upon the great jugular vein stopping the circulation of the blood, may the sooner put the criminal out of his misery.
V. 129. Chiron, the four legg'd bard.] Chiron, a centaur, son to Saturn and Phillyris, living in the mountains, where, being much given to hunting, he became very knowing in the virtues of plants, and one of the most famous physicians in his time. He imparted his skill to Esculapius, and was afterwards Achilles's governor, until, being wounded by Hercules, and desiring to die, Ju